Unlike horses and sheep, a goat’s coat is not waterproof, which means they need shelter to protect them from the rain, wind and snow. They also need shade, which could come from trees or an open-fronted shelter.
Depending on the size of your herd, it’s a good idea to provide lots of different shelters or areas of cover so that all your goats have access to shelter. Consider the size of your goats – some will suit small, arch shelters whereas bigger breeds will need taller ones.
Goats often suffer from the cold in winter, especially older goats or those with a shorter or thinner coat. Damp conditions can also make goats more prone to foot rot. If you have stables, this is the ideal place to keep your goats fed and warm overnight. Try to make your goats’ shelter as comfortable as possible and provide hay racks to keep them occupied and fed.
Use a few stable mats on the floor of the shelter, and cover this in good quality straw. This will provide your goats with a comfy bed area to rest on –especially important for elderly or taller breeds prone to joint discomfort.
Pick up the poo in your stable daily and refresh any damp areas to reduce ammonia levels. Clean your stable weekly through the winter, using a goat-friendly disinfectant. This will help to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria build-up and parasites, which can be difficult to treat if the home becomes infested.
Your goat field needs good stock fencing to keep them safe - goats are very good escape artists. Consider the height of the fence and also avoid having any tables or activities close to the fence – your goats can step on these to escape. Dig your fencing in well as some goats enjoy rubbing against the fence lines, making the fence unstable.
Walk around your field regularly to monitor for any damage, or even rabbit holes, which your goat may injure their leg in.
The ideal field space for two small to medium goats is a quarter of an acre. Goats should live in small herds, so having a field space of half an acre to one acre is perfect.